The Nativity of Christ and Repentance

… behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream, saying, “Joseph, son of David, do not fear to take Mary your wife, for that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Spirit; she will bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins.”  (Matthew 1:20-21)

According to St. Matthew at the Nativity of Christ, we learn from God that Jesus will save his people from their sins.  Christmas is thus and obviously about God’s own effort to deliver people from bondage to sins.  This is not some abstract idea about Christmas but is central to the original understanding of the holiday. The birth of Jesus readily calls to mind such passages from the Old Testament as Ezekiel 18:30-32 in which the Lord God says:

“Cast away from you all the transgressions which you have committed against me, and get yourselves a new heart and a new spirit! Why will you die, O house of Israel?  For I have no pleasure in the death of any one, says the Lord GOD; so turn, and live.”

God does not desire the death or punishment of anyone, not even of the wicked.  God wishes for every human being to turn away from sin  and in so doing to choose life with Him.   The birth of Christ is God’s action for the salvation of the human race – to save us from sin and death.  We need only to turn away from sin and in repentance to embrace eternal life.   This is fundamental to any celebration of Christ’s nativity.  The Christmas season is a natural time for us to embrace God’s love for us and to repent.

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3 thoughts on “The Nativity of Christ and Repentance

  1. Mike Clemens

    Does God allow the death (eternal separation) of those who do not repent? He desires that none die and the Incarnation is proof of that. But what do we say about those who are ignorant of His
    mercy in Christ? Does He go beyond His desire and accommodate these?

    1. Fr. Ted

      God as a respecter of human free will allows us to choose to separate ourselves from Him. That is why some Church Fathers thought heaven and hell are the same reality – both are in the presence of God. Those who love God will find this to be heaven, those who hate God will find themselves in God’s presence eternally and will hate it. What of those who in this world we4re ignorant of Christ’s mercy? Christ is merciful whether we know it or not, whether we believe it or not. Ignorance on our part will not change the merciful nature of God. God’s desire is for the salvation of the human race, even those who are ignorant of God.

      1. Mike Clemens

        The idea that heaven and hell are the same reality is a wonderful way to understand both. The notion that hell is a place for the ignorant/non-predestined was always difficult to accept. Eternity
        in the presence of God for all seems right. And given God’s character, He’s probably loving the
        haters into His arms! Thank you for your response and for serving us via your blog.

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